Legal update

Published on: 
10 February 2020

Our legal team has had a busy start to the new year.

Last week we learned we had been successful in our High Court case challenging the fact that the higher rate of bereavement support payment for families with children is currently only paid if a spouse or civil partner dies, and not when the couple were not married or in a civil partnership. This follows a similar challenge to the previous widowed parent’s allowance – the Supreme Court found in favour of a mother and her four children in that case, but, although the law is not compatible with human rights law, the government has still not resolved the issue.

This week we will be in the Upper Tribunal challenging another aspect of widowed parent’s allowance. We are representing a woman who has not received the allowance despite having taken part in an Islamic marriage ceremony (known as a Nikah).

We will be back in the High Court on 18-19 February to challenge the discriminatory effect of regulations which prevent EU citizens from getting means-tested benefits or child benefit, where their only demonstrated right of residence is “pre-settled status” (ie limited leave to remain granted to EU citizens who have been resident here for less than 5 years).

In April we will be in the Court of Appeal with our case concerning people who claim universal credit because their previous benefits have been terminated, but then cannot go back from universal credit to avoid reduced payments if the decision to terminate their original benefits is found to be incorrect.

We’ll also be in the Court of Appeal in May, because the DWP is challenging our win in the High Court on universal credit assessment periods. We are representing parents who are struggling and missing out on universal credit because some months the system thinks they are earning twice their actual earnings because of the arbitrary way their paydays fall.

Our legal challenge to the two-child limit will be heard in the Supreme Court in October. And finally, we are considering taking our benefit cap challenge to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.